As Risi Competizione Prepares for the Houston ALMS Race, Team Drivers Melo and Salo Take First and Third at the Silverstone FIA GT Race. Houston, Texas - Giuseppe Risi, the Managing Director of Risi Competizione, has said the Houston American Le...
As Risi Competizione Prepares for the Houston ALMS Race, Team Drivers Melo and Salo Take First and Third at the Silverstone FIA GT Race.
Houston, Texas - Giuseppe Risi, the Managing Director of Risi Competizione, has said the Houston American Le Mans Series Race to be run on Friday, May 12th, will be "a street fight". If so, he's not going into battle un-armed as new team drivers Jaime Melo and Mika Salo both drove their way onto the podium racing Ferrari 430GTs at the FIA GT race held at England's tricky Silverstone track on 7 May 2006.
"I see this as a very encouraging sign for Ferrari in sports car racing," Risi noted. "The Ferraris ran very well in the opening round of the FIA GT event and of course we're pleased that both Jaime Melo and Mika Salo were on the podium at the end of the race. With Schumacher's win at the Nürburgring, this was quite a weekend for Ferrari."
Racing for AF Corse out of Placenza, Italy, Brazilian Jaime Melo, driving with former Risi Competizione driver Matteo Bobbi, took 1st place in the GT2 class; Finnish driver Mika Salo, paired with Rui Aguas of Portugal took 3rd in the second AF Corse F430GT. A Porsche 996 GT3RSR was second. Melo and Salo will pair up together to race the lone Ferrari F430GT for Risi Competizione in the Lone Star Grand Prix, a two-hour and forty-five minute race on a street course in Houston, Texas. The Lone Star Grand Prix has an 8:00PM start-time.
The FIA GT overall winner at Silverstone was the Vitaphone Racing Maserati MC12, driven by another former Risi Competizione driver, Andrea Bertolini and German Michael Bartels.
While Melo and Salo were winning at Silverstone, the Risi Competizione team was making final preparations for the Houston race. "At this level of the sport, the preparation must be done in the shop, not at the race track during the race meeting. You fine tune at the track, but you prepare and test prior to moving in for the race."
Asked what fans should expect in Houston, Risi continued, "it's going to be an old-fashioned Texas shoot out. Street courses are notoriously hard on race cars. The course for the Lone Star Grand is very demanding, with some tight, blind corners and a straight that will see cars hit speeds over 150mph. It's going to be a real test of preparation and, to some extent, nerve. It's a night race so that means even more of a spectacle for the fans and a tougher test for the drivers and teams." Risi Competizione is based in Houston so this weekend's race will be their 'home' round and the team are looking forward to a good result.
The GT2 Class at the Lone Star Grand Prix will be contested by Porsche, Panoz-the winner of the 2006 12 Hours of Sebring-and the lone Risi Competizione F430GT. BMW has entered two M3s in the race; it is not known if the Lexus team, which has announced for the series, will be ready in time to make the Houston Race. The race will take place on the brand-new, purpose-built 1.7-mile, 9-turn Reliant Park course.
In terms of preparation for Houston, Risi Competizione engineer Rick Mayer will only say that "development never stops on the car and we know that none of the other teams remain static either. We expect to improve team and car performance with every race. We've been very satisfied with the speed of the 430GT from the day we first put it on the track."
Track proceedings get underway tomorrow morning (Thursday 12th May) with 50 minutes of free practice for the ALMS teams from 1110-1200. Qualifying for the GT1 and GT2 teams is scheduled to run from 1820-1840 that same evening. Friday (13th May) sees the ALMS competitors running a 'warm up' session from 1345-1415 before the Lone Star Grand Prix gets underway at 2000. The 2 hour 45 minute duration race is expected to finish at around 2245.